It’s been over a month since my last post.

ausitn Hi. Remember me? I used to write here almost daily.

I wish we could catch up in person, like how Liz & I chatted for an hour over lattes in Austin just two weeks ago. Pour a cup of coffee, maybe go for a walk, or sit in a backyard full of sunshine the way Shannon & I do while our boys run circles around us. I would ask you how life was – how are your kids? your husband? your house? are you looking at replacing an air conditioning unit like we are? how ready are you for the summer? have you planned vacation yet? I’d want to know all of these things about you, even the little stuff you think doesn’t matter, like if you’ve organized your junk drawer lately.

It’s funny how I want to know all of that about you (hence the 200+ blogs in my reader) but when it comes to sharing that part of myself, I think you won’t care. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I think about blogging, that someone else has already said it better & has the bandwidth to have the deeper thoughts.

But maybe you would like to hear about my dining room, which I painted a rich, lovely shade of green. It’s Pantone’s Online Lime but there’s nothing lime about it…just pure, deep green. We installed the first layer of chair rail (second fancy layer & boxes below to come!). I brought in the light blue & cream living room drapes from our first house & am searching for the perfect soft natural fiber rug to put under our feet.

diningroom1 edit 1024x768 Hi. Remember me? I used to write here almost daily.

I also sewed white poms to our marigold curtains. Our living room is my most favorite place to drink a cup of coffee in the morning. Or sit under a blanket on a rainy Sunday afternoon like this one.

livingroom1 edit 1024x768 Hi. Remember me? I used to write here almost daily.

In mid-February, I turned in my two-week notice to Babble & the absence of having to blog was the best rest for my burnt-out desire to write. I am so excited to just work for Ignite & only blog when I want. To go to work & come home & the evening is completely mine, no interruptions or writing at midnight to meet deadlines. Cutting the financial security blanket that Babble had been throughout the past two years was not something we took lightly & I emailed the editors with my heart in my throat, but it was the perfect move at the perfect time.

Now the days are getting longer & the air is getting warmer & I am already dreaming of the summer evenings at the pool, when we smell like sunscreen & chlorine for 3 months straight. I don’t want to miss any moment of our life but I still feel the need to write, to connect to a bigger world outside of my own.

So here I am, tapping at keys.

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On Saturday morning I poured a cup of coffee, sat down to the kitchen table with toast & eggs. Harry watched cartoons as I took a bite of toast & scrawled “Groceries” on a fresh page of my notebook. With Doug out of work, there was no ordering pizza on a busy night & I worked on a tight budget. Ground beef, angel hair spaghetti noodles, chicken noodle soup, frozen waffles, apples & green beans. I knew what we had in the pantry & fridge & what we would need for the week – did Tuck need dog food? how was my paper towel stash? – & wrote down meals for each night of the week.

It sounds easier than it was, but the truth was I poured a second cup of coffee while clipping coupons & digging for any way to stretch our slim budget. If beef was on sale, we had meatloaf. If I had a coupon for frozen diced chicken, we had chicken Alfredo. I craved steak & asparagus? No way if we also needed laundry detergent & dog food that same week. It was a delicate balance, frustrating & discouraging work, but I also loved the diligence of it all.

I looked for every way to scrimp & save so that I could always get Harrison’s favorite snacks & our favorite coffee. My days of online ordering & picking up after work were over. While Doug preferred the expensive grocery store near our home & I didn’t mind the cheaper store on the way home from the gym, I found that Target worked best. We have a Target REDCard, which means we automatically save 5% off every purchase. The majority of their generic brands are equally good & every purchase meant in-store coupons for things I already bought (don’t think about that too long, it can feel a little creepy). As a working mom, I prefer a one-stop shop that won’t cut into family or gym or work. Efficiency & effectiveness are my mottos these days.

While meal planning & clipping coupons, I sat with my phone in-hand. Searching through the Target Cartwheel app, I added a 10% discount on dog food & a 5% discount on coffee creamer. Fruit snacks were 15% off & avocados were 5% off. It might not seem like much, but the app saved me about $3.00 on average per $60 grocery trip. Stacking coupons usually got another $2-5 off & then 5% with my REDcard meant $2 off. That’s roughly $7-10 in savings each trip, which meant delicious coffee.

cartwheelreview Easier than learning an actual cartwheel. Trust me, I can do both.

I’ve saved $22.83 in just a few months on things I would have bought anyway. On a non-grocery level, I almost cried happy tears when toddler clothes were 15% off (including sale items) the week we realized Harry’s pants were hitting him above the ankles. Every little bit counts sometimes, you know?

Doug is back at work & our purse strings are looser & yet I find myself still sitting at the kitchen table on Saturday morning. I’ve realized how much money I can save with just a small amount of work & now I’m appreciating the discipline. Especially with my delicious, couponed, Cartwheeled, & REDCarded coffee.

Now one lucky reader from partipating blogs will have a chance to win $1,000 Target GiftCard®. So tell me…how do you save on groceries for the family? I’d love to hear your tips & know that there are so many of us that feel the squeeze of a budget, looking for any small chance to make this part of life a little easier.

 

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Blame the endorphins & the snow.

by Beth Anne on January 29, 2014

1613840 10101033101927501 634139775 n Blame the endorphins & the snow.

Lately I’ve been overwhelmed with life in the best way, the kind where I fall into bed at the end of the day & wonder how is this me? how is this reality? & why will it all end one day? I’ve been facing the reality that I’m 30 years old, 1/3 of the way through my life & there’s a part of me that aches to be here longer than that. I wish to bottle up these days, to relive the best of them & pray for do-overs on the worst, just so I can say that I lived the best life possible.

It makes it hard to sit down at the end of the day, when motherhood & wifehood & work have drained me. There are so many nights I just sit with the iPad in my lap at 10pm, watching one episode of Bones just to separate the day from my REM cycle. I could be blogging, I could be folding laundry, I could be sleeping, but most days I choose to pause one last time over my sleeping boy & sniff his cheeks.

It’s an act that makes me both forget & remember how quickly the past four years & my life have flown. I ache for more.

I cannot wait for more.

1604434 10101033102017321 1007356273 n Blame the endorphins & the snow.

I dyed my hair red after chopping off 7+ inches & I ran my first sub-11 minute mile the other evening after work. I won’t say that my jeans are any looser but I am definitely stronger & very proud of myself.

Plus, we had 3 inches of snow on the ground today.

I feel like the list of things to make me happy once seemed impossible – find a man that loves me, create a family, work a job that gives me purpose & fulfillment, keep my body strong, love my God, & end each day thankful – but I’ve done it & if I can do it, you can meet your dreams too.

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Snow morning.

by Beth Anne on January 22, 2014

1531785 10101024367656051 1991552643 n Snow morning.

He sat on the edge of the counter, legs swinging as I stirred the cocoa on the stove. I stared as he tipped the red mug to drain his hot chocolate. With a giggle, he asked if he could eat all the marshmallows, the whole bag? Please? I hope this is the momma he remembers, the one who pulled thermal & flannel over his head & took him to play in the half-inch of snow the moment the sun rose.

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Currently I Am…

by Beth Anne on January 20, 2014

PicMonkey Collage Currently I Am...

appreciating Doug’s TWO job offers last week!

reading The Boleyn Inheritance. I bought this book over a year ago after finishing The Other Boleyn Girl & never got around to reading it. So far, so okay.

listening the planes overhead & when it’s a clear day, they come a little more softly. I’ve always found them comforting & when I was a little girl, other girls dreamed of being teachers & doctors but I wanted to be a pilot.

tasting ham & cornbread stuffing. It’s my go-to simple comfort food.

learning to pause while I read to Harry, to point out letters, talk about their sounds, & continue his education outside the classroom. A natural teacher, I am not.

noticing the sunshine pouring through the windows.

anticipating a season of rest to come, long days at the pool, & evenings spent in the backyard.

working diligently, appreciatively, eagerly. Dare I admit how happy I am in my job?

making blueberry muffins in the afternoon.

watching Bones, Season 5.

accepting that I will always leave tissues in my pockets & Doug will always leave socks stuffed in couch cushions & we will be 80 years old & unchanged.

organizing a yard sale for this spring, the first I’ve ever done.

planning my home office in the small closet with the tiny window.

loving my gym’s Body Pump classes. Every Tuesday, every Thursday.

buying very little. The past few months have been a wonderful lesson in contentment.

finishing my second cup of coffee.

embracing the colder weather of the winter.

daring to cut my hair off, seven inches total.

Sometimes I need to run through these lists to jump the part of my brain that loves to write, that loves to sit in the quiet & just be until the words come. Little pieces to turn into long form, to weave into stories.

What are you up to these days? Holding onto those resolutions or does this post find you face-first in a bowl of peppermint ice cream? ::ahem, wipes evidence off own chin::

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